Downshifting....noob questions
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Thread: Downshifting....noob questions

  1. #1
    Senior Member GCFishguy's Avatar
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    Oct 2016
    Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada ehh?

    Downshifting....noob questions

    Okay, so never having rode a motorcycle before (before the TW), I'm pretty much self-taught...aside from the safety course.
    And given that I don't ride with anybody, and the local dual sport club is Husky's and KTMs and hare scrambles and so on, I wouldn't really fit in there. My style is taking it easy, seeing where that trail leads, just enjoying the outdoors.

    Anyway....I wanted to ask about downshifting, mostly on the street. Driving around in town, should I be downshifting gear by gear, or if I'm coming up to a red light and know I'm stopping, just coast up to it and click down through the gears as I'm about to come to a stop?

    I know not to use 1st to slow down (way too low)....but I'm just kind of curious if you go from 3rd to 2nd to 1st in the last few feet before stopping, or what?
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  2. #2
    Ken is offline
    Senior Member Ken's Avatar
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    Aug 2016
    Houston, Texas
    I usually just let off the gas drop one gear and coast. If I need to be stopping a little more I will let the clutch on out. I then just tap the shifter the rest of the way down before a full stop. Generally the engine won't actually rev when dropping a gear once you get used to it.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Purple's Avatar
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    Mar 2015
    Ynys Môn
    When you know you’re coming to a stop, downshift while the wheels are still turning or the gearbox can get “sticky” – try to let the clutch out in each gear (if the bike throws or “lurches” you forwards towards the bars, you downshifted a little early)

    When downshifting on the open road, it’s more to do with keeping the bike in an appropriate gear for the speed – eg not revving too high or too low

    There are no hard and fast rules on any of this, it’s a matter of personal preference – but when downshifting for a stop there are two things to consider ….

    Gear changing is more predictable while the wheels are still turning - and do you really want to be coming to a stop, then stabbing at the gear lever repeatedly not quite sure of what gear it’s in

    It takes time and practice, and can depend on which bike you’re on – but eventually you’ll find it easy to do without even thinking about it …….
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  5. #4
    Senior Member RockyTFS's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
    Hailey, ID
    One very good reason to always get in the habit of downshifting through the gears for stops in town is that you always want to be in a gear that will allow you to accelerate out of danger. On a bike that is geared as low as the TW, I might wait until the bike almost stopped to go into 1st. Out in the boonies it's not necessary. It's also a 50 year old habit that came from the days when brakes were not so great.

    Blipping the throttle for each downshift shift makes it much easier on the gears and clutch and less likely to skid the rear wheel.
    Tweaker, RkyMtnTW, Beeline and 6 others like this.
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  6. #5
    Senior Member Tweaker's Avatar
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    Dec 2015
    San Diego
    Rocky's advise is spot on safety wise and blipping the throttle is good because it helps match the rpm increase when changing to the lower gear. Nothing feels better than a smooth downshift when you match the rpms. Just as up shifts have a sweet spot speed and rpm wise downshifts do too. I like to practice matching the rpms at different speeds in all the gears while down shifting. The more you ride the more you know what matches. My wifes safety class wanted her to be in first by the time she stopped. On the TW thats a pretty slow speed or you're reving really high or chirping the tire as you noticed.

    Having said all that that sometimes I am lazy and will pull in the clutch in second and stop and then shift into 1st.
    Last edited by Tweaker; 05-16-2017 at 09:33 AM.
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  7. #6
    Senior Member drstimpy's Avatar
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    Rochester, MA
    Also stick with what feels best to you. Situations vary. As long as you are in first when you stop it's all good.

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    Purple likes this.
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  8. #7
    Senior Member socalnative's Avatar
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    Nov 2016
    So. California, inland empire
    On the street I agree with not just pulling in the clutch and coasting to a stop. You don't want to be in 5th and going too slow to accelerate out of harms way.

    In the dirt it isn't as big of a deal because you aren't going to be ran over by a much larger vehicle.
    Except when the unforeseen obstacle appears and you need some power to get over or by it.
    So I try to stay in the habit of being in a gear that allows me to gun it when I need to. Although throttling up on the TW is relative given it's level of power. I think that makes it even more important to stay in a usable gear.
    jtstdub likes this.

  9. #8
    Senior Member jtstdub's Avatar
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    Jan 2015
    Fair Oaks, Calif
    Learning to blip, or increase the engine rpm, the throttle when the clutch is disengaged when down shifting will treat the trans really nice! I like to try to match the rpm of the engine to the downshift so when I release the clutch there is no change in the engine rpm or very little! I like to drive my car in the same way when downshifting I increase the engine rpm to match the next lower gear... You have to learn to do that with some trucks and older cars that have no Synchro's.

    When stopped you should be in first gear ready to go in case something happens. Only time I go to neutral sitting is when there are no observable things to be cautions of.

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  10. #9
    Senior Member Dryden-Tdub's Avatar
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    Apr 2014
    Dryden NY
    In my three years of owning and riding my TW I have never shifted up and down between 2nd 3rd and 4th gear as often as I did on the green ridge ride in Maryland! In my case downshifting slowed me with lots of control before entering corners and allowed me to either brake if the road turned bad or accelerate quickly "relative to the TW" if the road surface was smooth sailing. I say practice downshifting every chance you get so long as you are comfortable with your surroundings.

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